| AD Prevention | National Plan to Address AD | Community Health Fair |
| 2012 Walk To End Alzheimer's | Clinical Trials |
Familial Alzheimer's Disease Prevention
By: John M. Ringman, M.D., M.S.
The Easton Center has been performing observational studies of persons with or at-risk for familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) since 2001 and from the beginning, patients and at-risk subjects have been asking where this was all leading. FAD is a rare form of AD with a purely genetic cause and a much younger age of onset, relative to the far more common form of AD. Because the age of onset of FAD is also consistent among family members, FAD presents the opportunity to conduct clinical trials in persons at risk to get dementia. Therefore, the recent press release regarding an upcoming prevention study in persons at-risk for genetic mutations that cause FAD is an important announcement.
Though the mutations causing FAD have been known since the early 1990’s, there have been many obstacles to developing an appropriate approach to prevention in this population. Drug safety is always an issue, but it becomes particularly relevant in the context of a preventive intervention, which is given to people with no cognitive impairment and may be given regularly for the rest of their lives. According to its developers, the drug chosen for the first FAD prevention trial, Crenezumab, is thought to have an improved safety profile, relative to other similar drugs, but long-term studies necessary to prove this are not yet complete.
Another major obstacle is the availability of an adequate number of appropriate participants. Even among families that harbor mutations, the number of at-risk persons who are the right age, have no exclusionary criteria for participation, and are willing to enroll may be small. Over many years (and an incredible amount of work), Dr. Francisco Lopera and colleagues at the University of Antioquia have collected a cohort of families with the one FAD mutation large enough to provide adequate numbers of study participants. The first FAD prevention trial will enroll most of its participants from this cohort.
There are also ethical issues in prevention trials. Extreme caution must be taken to ensure that participants are truly informed during the consent process. Many persons at-risk for these mutations do not want to know their genetic status. To address this, the Crenezumab prevention trial will enroll all willing and appropriate at-risk persons, perform genetic testing, and non-randomly assign those without mutations to placebo. There is still the possibility that persons having side effects from the active drug will correctly infer their genetic status, but this is viewed as an acceptable risk. For these ethical reasons, the Colombian regulatory agency has required the study be simultaneously performed at sites in the U.S. The Easton Center is one U.S. center being considered to fill this role.
In light of the promise of this intervention in a population that is in need, the news of this imminent study is truly heartening to the Easton Center and likely to the many members of the families in which this unfortunate condition runs.
National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease
By: Kulwant Dosanjh, M.A.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently released the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease. This plan was part of the National Alzheimer's Project Act that was signed into law over a year ago. As part of the plan, additional research funding will be provided for the remainder of 2012. The 2013 NIH budget will include a $100 million increase in funding for Alzheimer's disease. $80 million is dedicated to research studies toward the goal of the National Plan to create a treatment by 2025 that will either be preventive or halt symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Included will be funding for two large-scale clinical trials.
One trial is a $7.9 million effort to test intranasal insulin as a treatment for AD. This trial was discussed in the media earlier this year, and initial results indicated possible benefits. UCLA is likely to be one of the sites for this study. In people diagnosed with AD, insulin levels are decreased. Increasing insulin levels may improve symptoms. The second trial, discussed in detail in Dr. Ringman's article on page 1, aims to test a treatment as a possible prevention for Familial AD. The Plan budgets $16 million from the NIH to fund this trial that will include participants who are at increased risk for the rare genetic form of AD.
In addition to research funding, the plan provides $2 million to provide education and training to health service workers (i.e. physicians, nurses, etc.) regarding disease management and symptom recognition. The plan also implements a new website: www.alzheimers.gov. This site is designed for caregivers and the general public, and includes detailed information about various local resources that can be accessed by caregivers. So that the nation is more aware of AD, the plan funds a national television campaign that will begin in Summer 2012. This campaign will include information regarding alzheimers.gov, will be helpful to caregivers and those with AD, and will alert the general public to the AD epidemic.
52nd Assembly District Community Health Fair
By: Doug Hawkins
On May 19, 2012, the Easton Center took part in the 52nd Assembly District Community Health Fair at Ted Watkins Memorial Park in Watts. Assembly member Isadore Hall, III, and Los Angeles County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, partnered to host this event to address community health challenges such as adult and childhood obesity. The health fair included information regarding resources in the community, including the Easton Center. Screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, BMI and HIV were made available to attendees. The Watts Farmers Market also took part by providing healthy food options.
Alma Houston of the Easton Center was a speaker at the event. She presented information to attendees regarding the prevalence of AD among African Americans and Latinos and the importance of research participation. The Center routinely conducts outreach activities in greater Los Angeles County in order to educate the community about AD and encourage participation in clinical research.
2012 San Fernando Valley Walk To End Alzheimer's
By: Kulwant Dosanjh, M.A.
The second annual San Fernando Valley Walk to End Alzheimer's was held on Sunday, June 10th at Woodley Park in Van Nuys. The Alzheimer's Association held this event and has many walks scheduled in Southern California and nationwide each year. The walk raises funds, awareness, and spirits, and provides information to attendees regarding resources available including information about research and care giving. The Alzheimer's Association began doing walks in 1989 and has raised over $347 million to address the disease. These funds assist the Alzheimer's Association in their continued research, support, and care efforts. This year, in addition to the Easton Center having an information booth available, Dr. David Teplow, Interim Director of the Center, participated as part of the "Ask A Researcher" program. This booth gives walkers and other attendees the opportunity to ask questions of expert researchers in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Teplow's wife, Arden, co-chaired the event. The Easton Center also will participate in the next Walk to End Alzheimer's, Sunday, November 4, 2012 at Century Park in Century City.
Alzheimer's Association: www.alz.org
Clinical Research Opportunities
If you would like to advance Alzheimer's disease research, please consider participating at the Easton Center. Below are two current trials. For a complete list of enrolling studies, visit our website at www.eastonad.ucla.edu.
Study of an Antibody Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease:
Study of Brain Metabolic Effects of Axona®: